Posts Tagged ‘Computers’

Going about it the hard way…..WHY??

Last evening I finally had some time to get on the PC and check out what fellow ham radio bloggers were up too. For the past month I have been working every day and only having time to “fast read” a post and drop a short comment. While surfing the blog sphere last evening I came across KG3V’s blog, the subject of the blog caught my attention “Updating FTDX-3000 Firmware. Below is a link to what I only could call an “adventure”.
https://kg3v.com/2017/10/14/updating-ftdx-3000-firmware/

In the post Tom does a great job explaining how he went about the firmware upgrade and some issues he ran into. Tom also goes over the enhancements this firmware will forward to his FTDX-3000. It’s fantastic how far we have come in radio, in the past if you wanted the upgrades it meant selling what you had and purchasing the new and improved version. Today’s modern rigs can chat either over the internet or with pre-downloaded thumb drives and magic is worked within the rig to either over come an issue, enhance what is already there or add something new! Having said that I just can’t understand what the issue is with the process of the upgrade. It’s just not ham radio with our Nikon cameras to upgrade the firmware it’s…hold this while pushing that….make sure you don’t do this while doing that….and on and on and on. Resources are used writing the rigs new firmware upgrade, time and money is put into it and it’s to make the product better for the end user. If this is the case why the %&^* not make the process for the end user easy peasy!!

Having said the above and let me preface this with “I am not going to say what I am about to say just because I am a fan of Elecraft but if the shoe fits……” To upgrade my K3 or KX3 Elecraft has provided via their website a program that sits on your desktop, one of it’s functions is for firmware upgrades. The process is as follows:
1. Double click on desktop icon.
2. Click on Firmware tab.
3. Click on “Check versions now”
4. Below you will then see the firmware that is installed in your rig and new firmware that is available for your rig. You then click on “Send all new firmware to K3 or KX3.
Your rig will start to click, there will be “stuff” flashing on the rigs screen, sometimes even clicking noises from the rig and then your rig’s screen returns to normal and your done. I have owned Kenwood, Icom and Yeasu rigs and never has it been this easy and my question is WHY NOT!!! Now having said the above it is true I have not owned one of the above rigs for some time now so do comment if the process has changed…but is sure does not seem it has for the FTDX-3000 model rig!

OK I’m off my soapbox now….:))

Digital magazines

Still in the bag
The last time I renewed my QST magazine subscription not only did I get my monthly print addition of QST but I would receive an email about a week or so before the print copy arrived informing my digital copy was waiting for me to download and view. I will admit I was one of those ham's that just wanted to feel the pages, hold an actual copy and ear a page to come back to it later. I had some spare money in my Paypal account and I decided to once again subscribe to CQ magazine but this time I decided to only go with their digital version of the magazine. In the past I had big issues with the delivery of the magazine so I wanted to avoid this again. It was the reason I cancelled my CQ subscription some years ago. As the CQ issues started to arrived I was forced to get used to reading the subscription on line. I found out over time the best method of delivery for me was on my Apple iPad pro. For me it worked seamlessly and to be honest it was the viewing of the occasional QST on my PC that frustrated me with the digital age of magazines. As I read my paper copy of QST each month ignoring the email about a digital copy waiting for me in my inbox! Those at the ARRL who publish the QST magazine are very clever in that they tease you with tidbits "you can view more content in the digital version" "Here is a video of the review that can be viewed in the digital version" I began now and then to download QST's digital version to my iPad pro (once I downloaded the app) After a very short time I was hooked on the digital version. Now the print copy stays on my night stand and sometimes a month goes past and it does not even get removed from the shipping plastic. Why not just subscribe to the QST digital version you ask??  I have now as I found in their FAQ how to unsubscribe from the print version. There is no savings to the member for doing this but I am told that the money saved QST puts that to good use. I have no issue with this and am happy to my this "donation" to the ARRL.
For those of you where like me and have not as of yet jumped into the digital magazine world I will say it's a very interactive way of reading. CQ uses a program called Zinio to view their magazine and QST uses Pagesuite It may just be me but I find Pagesuite easier to use, nice graphics and well laid out and I hope one day CQ will start to use them as well as Zinio.
Some of the advantages I find with having a digital copy are:

  • Ability to view videos (QST often has product reviews and a video to along with it)
  • Web links that can take you to more content. 
  • Ability to enlarge the print which is good for me. 
Some of the disadvantages:
  • You can't just roll up the tablet or PC under your arm and take it with you. 
  • To download a new addition the internet is needed. 
  • To take full advantage of the digital copy again the internet is needed. 
For me I find the Apple iPad pro does an amazing job as I am sure any other tablet would but I am  an Apple fan. As for carrying around my iPad I use the Otterbox product to protect it. The way I look at it if you are going to spend good money on a tablet or phone at least spend 1/4 of the price on something that is going to keep it safe. 

Working some JT-65 this afternoon

A decent showing on 20m JT-65
I had the day off today as I was called in last evening and worked through the night so I thought some radio time was in order! I wanted to try some digital using WSJT-X's program and JT-65 seemed as good as any mode. At first I attempted to just run JT-65 on it's own as I have done many times in the past. This time for some reason most times when the rig went into transmit my Elecraft K3 stopped transmitting and gave me an error message of ERR PTT. I did post this issue on the Elecraft reflector and got some great feedback BUT I wanted to get some JT-65 in! Next was to try the "back door"
My spots on Hamspots
approach by using Win4k3 suite rig control software as I also have WSJT-X set up under 3rd party AUX/CAT port. Using WSJT-X this way worked like a charm as most of the feedback on the Elecraft reflector site pointed toward software issues and not rig troubles. There was a nice amount of DX on the waterfall that I was decoding but when I checked on Hamspots to see who and where was receiving my 5 watt JT-65 signal it was all U.S so that was the spots I attempted to contact. I also threw my CQ out there as well to see if any local or DX heard me. KG5ICI came back to me from Texas Chris gave me a signal report of -16. I was not on the radio too long but it sure was nice and relaxing.
Afternoon contact

Working some JT-65 this afternoon

A decent showing on 20m JT-65
I had the day off today as I was called in last evening and worked through the night so I thought some radio time was in order! I wanted to try some digital using WSJT-X's program and JT-65 seemed as good as any mode. At first I attempted to just run JT-65 on it's own as I have done many times in the past. This time for some reason most times when the rig went into transmit my Elecraft K3 stopped transmitting and gave me an error message of ERR PTT. I did post this issue on the Elecraft reflector and got some great feedback BUT I wanted to get some JT-65 in! Next was to try the "back door"
My spots on Hamspots
approach by using Win4k3 suite rig control software as I also have WSJT-X set up under 3rd party AUX/CAT port. Using WSJT-X this way worked like a charm as most of the feedback on the Elecraft reflector site pointed toward software issues and not rig troubles. There was a nice amount of DX on the waterfall that I was decoding but when I checked on Hamspots to see who and where was receiving my 5 watt JT-65 signal it was all U.S so that was the spots I attempted to contact. I also threw my CQ out there as well to see if any local or DX heard me. KG5ICI came back to me from Texas Chris gave me a signal report of -16. I was not on the radio too long but it sure was nice and relaxing.
Afternoon contact

100mW’s of raw power!!

The other evening I was having a cup of tea and checking out my new QST that just arrived and found myself very interested in a piece written by Steve Ford in his column Eclectic Technology. The title caught my eye "When a signal is barely a WSPR" Steve looked at how the Raspberry Pi could be used for WSPR transmissions. Seeing I have the Raspberry Pi3 this sparked my interest. It was pointed out that all you need to turn your Pi into a WSPR transmitter is a board from TAPR called QRPi.  The board is offered at a very reasonable price of 29.00 U.S and it's set for 20m at 100mW. Before I got to excited about this little project  I wanted to see if using 100mW's would net me any results. I have seen other hams in the past net great results with far less than 100mW's and WSPR is known for it's great decode at very low power........BUT.......I do have a challenging setup here. On Friday late afternoon I gave WSPR a go on 20m at 100mW and was I impressed with the results. I was received by DK6UG for a distance of 39383 miles per watt and also ON7KO for a distance of 37285 miles per watt. I was amazed that my setup was able to produce those results! Now another question I wanted to consider is at 100mW how much of that actual power makes it to my antenna? To do this I referred to a coax calculator I punched in the type of coax (RG8X) the SWR (1.4:1) the length (30 feet)  the frequency (14) and finally the power (100mW) The calculated amount I was informed was 92mW of raw power! So this bumped my miles per watt to 42810 for DK6UG and 4053 for ON7KO! It's not timo look more into the TAPR project!!

JT65-HF is now working!

PSK reporter
Over the weekend I tried some JT-65 HF again after getting great feedback from my last blog post, I was under the impression I had some JT-65HF hits and in fact it turns out I netted ZERO contacts. The reports I was seeing on PSK reporter were stations I was hearing and  not hearing me! One of those who commented advised me to listen to the signal WSJT-X was sending. It turns out that was one of my problems, the software was not sending out CQ but a solid tuning tone. Seems this was a software issue with WSJT-X if I was to use the "tune" button on the software to see my ALC it would then send the same tone when TX was enabled. The way around this was to just restart WSJT-X and don't use the tune button on the software. There is a bata test software out now version 1.7 and I may download and try it. My results have been much better once this error was corrected.
Ham spots report

JT65-HF is now working!

PSK reporter
Over the weekend I tried some JT-65 HF again after getting great feedback from my last blog post, I was under the impression I had some JT-65HF hits and in fact it turns out I netted ZERO contacts. The reports I was seeing on PSK reporter were stations I was hearing and  not hearing me! One of those who commented advised me to listen to the signal WSJT-X was sending. It turns out that was one of my problems, the software was not sending out CQ but a solid tuning tone. Seems this was a software issue with WSJT-X if I was to use the "tune" button on the software to see my ALC it would then send the same tone when TX was enabled. The way around this was to just restart WSJT-X and don't use the tune button on the software. There is a bata test software out now version 1.7 and I may download and try it. My results have been much better once this error was corrected.
Ham spots report


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